Davinci Virtual Blog



Small Business Branding Power, Part 1

A brand is a promise. It communicates the essence of who your company is, what it stands for, and what customers can expect from it.

Despite its simplicity, many people misunderstand what branding is – and what’s it’s not. Others don’t give branding the attention it deserves. If you ask 10 different people what branding means to them, you are likely to get 10 different answers.

University of Indiana marketing professors, for example, define branding as “the process by which the true character of the company or organization is communicated.” But Ashler Hotels defines branding as “obtaining a franchise brand name for a hotel such as Holiday Inn, Hilton, etc.” And marketing communications firm Brady Communications defines branding as “the identification of a product or service with the parent company; it usually means the inclusion of the corporate signature in the ad or product.”

Indeed, branding is all that and the some. Regardless of how you define branding, though, there is one common thread upon which marketers from all walks of industry agree: Branding is vital to successful marketing. Just how important is branding, you ask? Well, a 2006 study conducted by market research firm Yankelovich estimated that a person living in a city sees up to 5,000 ad messages a day. Consider the odds. If your brand doesn’t stand out from the pack, it could get lost in the fray.

“Your brand strategy defines your company’s intent. In essence, it’s a promise – a promise that defines what your organization intends to deliver to its customers and the marketplace,” says Scott Glatstein, President of Imperatives, LLC, a marketing consultancy in Minnetonka, Minnesota. “Articulating a good strategy is only the beginning. It’s the strategy’s execution that determines whether an organization can turn good intentions into profits.”

Stay tuned for part two of Branding Power, where we look at branding with customer service.

Get Equipped for Email Marketing in the Social Age

I don’t normally write about workshops and webinars, but this is one no small business owner should miss out on—especially if you are venturing into the world of e-mail marketing (or have even thought about it.)

You can get some quick lessons from VerticalResponse, a self-service e-mail marketing, online survey and direct mail solutions provider for small businesses. VerticalResponse is a reputable brand—and the company is offering a free workshop during San Francisco Small Business Week May 16-21.

Dubbed "Email Marketing in the Social Age," the workshop will cover the basics of e-mail marketing best practices, an overview of social media, how to integrate e-mail marketing with social media and tips on how to get started.

"We've built our business on helping small businesses grow using incredibly simple-to-use, yet effective email marketing and social media tools," says Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse. "We're excited to sponsor San Francisco Small Business Week and give back to the community that we're proud to call home."

Popick is a trustworthy source in the small business world. She won the 2010 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year award. E-mail marketing expert Jill Bastian, VerticalResponse’s Education & Training Manager, will teach the workshop.

You can register online at http://marketingsocialage.eventbrite.com/. If you aren’t in the San Francisco area, don’t let that get you down. VerticalResponse has plenty of good articles, case studies, podcasts and videos, as well as free marketing guides, on its Web site. You can get some quick info on everything from how to write a great internal newsletter to how to grow sales by building your e-mail list.

Why am I stressing this? Because e-mail marketing is vital to many small businesses--and many small businesses still aren't using this strategic marketing tool. If you haven't considered whether e-mail marketing can help your small business grow, don't wait any longer. Check out some of the free materials on sites like Constant Contact and VerticalResponse and get educated about this low-cost marketing opportunity.

Action Is Essential To Career Success

Are you working on your career goals regularly or just thinking about them? Are you moving forward a little bit every day or waiting for the right time to begin?

Goals don't get realized on their own. They get completed and achieved when you are working on them. Work on your goals and you will reach them. Work on something else and your goals will take a back seat.

Nothing great happens in your career without your active participation. When you are taking action in your career, you are carrying out your goals with purpose and power. You are "in the zone" and believe that anything is possible. You feel great. You have faith that your actions will lead to goal completion. And you are right.

So, How Do You Take Action In Your Career? Follow these five steps:

1. Map Out Your Action Steps

You can't reach your destination unless you know where you are going. Mapping out what you are going to do-and then doing it-is your recipe for success. Think about it this way. If you were to complete one action step every day, you will have taken thirty steps at the end of the month and 365 steps by the end of the year. Small steps add up to big ones because goals are reached one (mapped) step at a time.

2. Manage Your Time Effectively

You are probably extremely busy, and you are certainly not alone in this. But do not use being busy as an excuse to not work on your career. It's essential to work on your goals despite what is happening around you. And, if you do not make time, it will not magically occur on its own. Are your goals important to you? If the answer is yes, then make time to accomplish them.

3. Select Your Priorities

There will always be something on your list of things to do. So, try to let go of what you should do, or could do. Instead, focus on what you want to do and accomplish. You want to reach your goals. This is your objective. Select the action steps that will get you there, and work on these. This is how you will reach the finish line.

4.  Use Your Calendar

A calendar is an essential tool for helping you reach your goals. If you don't feel like taking an action step in your career, your calendar will help you get motivated or stay on track. If you don't remember what your next action step is, your calendar will remind you what to work on. If your action steps are not in your calendar, they will not get done, because you will forget what you need to do.

5. Move Forward No Matter What

You will have good days and bad days-everyone does. Nevertheless, try to move yourself forward and take action even if you do not feel like it on a particular day. Take one step every day whether you believe it will make a difference or not. Movement will help make your goals a reality.

So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

Check out this video on entrepreneurial career success:

Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is the President of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc. a career, life, and mentor coaching company. She is the author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career,","Don't Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job" and "How To Feel Great At Work Everyday."

AMEX, Wells Fargo Launch Small Businesses Projects

Small businesses can use all they help they can get—and two corporate behemoths are offering a leg up. American Express and Wells Fargo are ready to help small businesses grow.

American Express Open has partnered with SCORE to launch a multi-city tour that aims to help small business owners develop strategies and give them the educational and coaching programs they need to identify new opportunities for business growth.

Dubbed the “Small Business High Speed Growth,” the program expands on the previous “Small Business Speed Coaching Test Drive” event series to couples speed coaching with new problem-solving workshops. The 2011 events invite questions on a variety of topics, from surviving the current economy to finding the “right” customers.

For the first time since 2006, growth has surpassed survival as the number one priority for entrepreneurs, according to the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor.  Perhaps further evidence that economic recovery is reaching Main Street, more than one-third (35 percent) plan to hire, the highest level since the fall 2008 survey.

“Small business owners are survivors having held on through uncertain economic times and are now, more than ever, ready to grow and expand their businesses,” says Karen-Michelle Mirko, director of customer advocacy at American Express OPEN. “These growth-focused entrepreneurs require increased support from trusted partners who can lend their expertise on key business issues.”

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo has kicked off its annual Small Business Appreciation Celebration with the launch of a new financial information portal for small business owners. The interactive Business Insight Resource Center offers business owners free access to multimedia content with tips and strategies on how to start, grow, manage, expand and transition businesses.

Visitors to the Resource Center will find hundreds of videos, articles, podcasts and webinars addressing the various aspects of owning and operating a business. Website features allow users to access information by topic, business type, or business stage and can be customized to showcase information most relevant to a small business owner’s needs or interests. Business owners can also share their opinions through online polls and surveys or share valuable content through social media platforms.

“Nothing is more helpful than real-world, practical knowledge being shared by fellow experts and business owners,” says Rich Sloan, co-founder and CEO of StartupNation and host of many videos found on the site. “Wells Fargo has done a great service to my fellow business owners by producing valuable, timely videos with tips and strategies that are easy to apply. The Business Insight Resource Center is filled with great advice that helps owners solve problems and move their businesses forward.”

Take Responsibility For Your Career

Who do you fault if something goes wrong in your career? Yourself or someone around you?

How about if no one is to fault, but someone is responsible? How about if the responsible person is you?

Most people don't like to take responsibility. First of all, it's not fun. Second, responsibility forces you to look deep inside yourself to assess and reassess your life and career, which is also not fun. Finally, responsibility requires action and action requires work. Again, no fun.
In addition, most people are not accustomed to taking responsibility. We are used to assigning blame or an outside cause for our problems. And usually, we can find someone or something we can point to as the reason for our dissatisfaction.

I am not saying that you should fault yourself for everything that has gone awry in your career. Real things happen to real people, and in many cases, they are hard to go through and experience. Plus, faulting only "you" wouldn't be fair or realistic. I am saying to accept what has happened to you in your career, learn from it, forgive yourself, refocus, and then move on. This approach is the best use of your time and energy.

So How Do Your Take Responsibility For Your Career? Follow These 3 Steps Below:

1) Recognize What Not Taking Responsibly Is Costing You

Sometimes faulting others feels good. We like to be right and if we are right, then another party gets to be wrong. We feel vindicated because we know who hurt us and why they are at fault. Plus, we get sympathy and attention from the people around us. The downside to not taking responsibility is you stay stuck and stagnant which makes you feel worse. When something in your career does not go as planned, or you are thrown off course without notice, you have a decision to make. Be right (and stuck) or get moving. The decision is yours and you have the power to make it.

2) Recognize That Without Responsibility There Can Be No Forward Movement

When you accept responsibility for your career, a sense of calm will emerge. No longer will your energies be focused outward but inward on you. You will feel great, motivated, and empowered. Your sense of purpose and direction will reappear. You will enjoy being with you again. And, you will learn to trust and rely on yourself in ways that you did not know were possible before.

3) Recognize That, With A Plan, Great Things Happens

Accepting responsibility for your career will empower you to direct its course. You can plan again. You can open your calendar and put items into it again. You can take your goals and break them into small achievable pieces. You can look towards the future and the future will be brighter. You can move forward and achieve results. You can reach your goals. You are also freed up to look at other areas of your life where you want to be more responsible.
So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

Check out this classic Brian Tracy video on success"

Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is the President of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc. a career, life, and mentor coaching company. She is the author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career," "Don't Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job" and "How To Feel Great At Work Everyday."